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PAL subsequently filed its motion for reconsideration (MR)

of the July 22, 2008 Decision; this was handled by Third


In Re: Letters of Atty. Estelito P. Mendoza re: G.R. No. Division: Ynares-Santiago, Chico-Nazario, Nachura,
178083 — Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of Peralta, Bersamin
the Philippines (FASAP) v. Philippine Airlines, Inc.
(PAL), et al.
The Special Third Division denied the MR with finality on October
2, 2009. The Court further declared that "[n]o further pleadings will
The Case: The developments that brought about the present dispute be entertained." The other Members of the Special Third Division
— expressed in a format that can more readily be appreciated in unanimously concurred with the denial of the motion.
terms of the Court en banc's ruling to recall the September 7, 2011
ruling — the FASAP case, as it developed, was attended by special November 3, 2009, PAL asked for leave of court to file (a)
and unusual circumstances that saw: an MR of the October 2, 2009 Resolution, and (b) a 2nd
MR of the July 22, 2008 Decision.
(a)the confluence of the successive retirement of
three Justices (in a Division of five In view of the retirement of the ponente, Justice Ynares-
Justices) who actually participated in Santiago, the Court's Raffle Committee had to resolve the
the assailed Decision and Resolution; question of who would be the new ponente of the case.

(b)the change in the governing rules — from the Under A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC (Rules on Who Shall Resolve
A.M.s to the IRSC regime — which Motions for Reconsideration in Cases Assigned to the
transpired during the pendency of the Divisions of the Court, effective April 1, 2000), if the
case; ponente has retired, he/she shall be replaced by another
Justice who shall be chosen by raffle from among the
(c)the occurrence of a series of inhibitions in the remaining Members of the Division.
course of the case (Justices Ruben
Reyes, Leonardo-de Castro, Corona, However, on November 11, 2009, the case was raffled, not
Velasco, and Carpio), and the absences to a Member of the Third Division that issued the July 22,
of Justices Sereno and Reyes at the 2008 Decision or to a Member of the Special Third
critical time, requiring their Division that rendered the October 2, 2009 Resolution, but
replacement; notably, Justices Corona, to Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. who was then a
Carpio, Velasco and Leonardo-de Member of the newly-constituted regular Third Division.
Castro are the four most senior
Members of the Court; In raffling the case to Justice Velasco, the Raffle Committee
considered the above-quoted rule inapplicable because of the
(d)the three re-organizations of the divisions, express excepting qualification provided under A.M. No. 99-8-09-
which all took place during the SC that states: [t]hese rules shall not apply to motions for
pendency of the case, necessitating the reconsideration of decisions or resolutions already denied with
transfer of the case from the Third finality.
Division, to the First, then to the
Second Division; Stated otherwise, when the original ponente of a case retires,
motions filed after the case has been denied with finality may be
(e)the unusual timing of Atty. Mendoza's letters, resolved by any Member of the Court to whom the case shall be
made after the ruling Division had raffled, not necessarily by a Member of the same Division that
issued its Resolution of September 7, decided or resolved the case.
2011, but before the parties received
their copies of the said Resolution; and On January 20, 2010 (or while A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC was still in
effect), the new regular Third Division, through Justice Velasco,
(f)finally, the time constraint that intervened, granted PAL's Motion for Leave to File and Admit Motion for
brought about by the parties' receipt on Reconsideration of the Resolution dated 2 October 2009 and 2nd
September 19, 2011 of the Special Motion for Reconsideration of Decision dated 22 July 2008. This
Division's Resolution of September 7, grant, which opened both the Decision and the Resolution penned
2011, and the consequent running of by Justice Ynares-Santiago for review, effectively opened the
the period for finality computed from whole case for review on the merits.
this latter date; and the Resolution The members of the Third Division: Carpio, Velasco, Nachura,
would have lapsed to finality after Peralta , Bersamin,
October 4, 2011, had it not been
recalled by that date. SacTCA
at the time leave of court was granted (which was effectively an
All these developments, in no small measure, contributed in acceptance for review of PAL's 2nd MR), the prohibition against
their own peculiar way to the confusing situations that attended entertaining a 2nd MR under Section 2, Rule 52 (in relation with
the September 7, 2011 Resolution, resulting in the recall of this Section 4, Rule 56) of the Rules of Court applied. This
Resolution by the Court en banc. prohibition, however, had been subject to various existing Court
decisions that entertained 2nd MRs in the higher interest of
justice. This liberalized policy was not formalized by the Court
until the effectivity of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court
Facts: On July 22, 2008, the Court's Third Division, (IRSC) on May 4, 2010.
granted the petition for review on certiorari filed by
FASAP finding PAL guilty of illegal dismissal. The
Decision was penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-
Santiago who was joined by the other four Members of the
Third Division: Austria-Martinez, Chico-Nazario, Issue: Whether the general rule under A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC
Nachura, and De Castro (which was then still in effect) should have applied so that the
case should have been transferred to the remaining Members of participated in the rendition of
the Division that ruled on the merits of the case. the decision or signed
resolution.

In other words, with the re-opening of the case for review on the
merits, the application of the excepting qualification under A.M. No.
99-8-09-SC that the Raffle Committee cited lost its efficacy, as the
rulings of the Court were no longer final for having been opened for
further review.

Velasco, after acting on the FASAP case for almost one whole
year, inhibited himself from participation "due to a close
relationship to a party," despite his previous action on the case.
The case was then referred to the Raffle Committee pursuant to
Administrative Circular (AC) No. 84-2007, as stated in the
Division Raffle Sheet.
xxx xxx xxx
If the ponente has retired, is no longer
On September 7, 2011, the Court — through its Second a Member of the Court, is disqualified,
Division as then constituted — resolved to deny with finality or has inhibited himself or herself
PAL's 2nd MR through an unsigned resolution. from acting on the motion for
The second Division was composed of: Brion, Peralta, Perez, reconsideration or clarification, he
Bersamin, Mendoza. or she shall be replaced through
raffle by a new ponente who shall be
chosen among the new Members of
Then there came Atty. Estelito Mendoza's 4 letters submitted to the Division who participated in the
the SC. rendition of the decision or signed
resolution and who concurred therein.
If only one Member of the Court who
On September 26, 2011, the Clerk of Court issued the Vidal- participated and concurred in the rendition
Anama Memorandum to the Members of the Second Division in of the decision or signed resolution
relation to the inquiries contained in the first and second letters of remains, he or she shall be designated as
Atty. Mendoza dated September 13 and 20, 2011. the new ponente.

The Vidal-Anama Memorandum explained the events that A comparison of these two provisions shows the semantic sources
transpired and the actions taken, which resulted in the transfer of the of the seeming conflict: Section 7, Rule 2 refers to a situation where
case from its original ponente, Justice Ynares-Santiago, to Justice the ponente has retired, is no longer a Member of the Court, is
Velasco, and eventually to Justice Brion. Attached to the disqualified, or has inhibited himself from acting on the case; while
Memorandum were the legal and documentary bases for all the Section 3, Rule 8 generally refers to the inhibition of a Member-in-
actions of the various raffle committees. These included the Charge who does not need to be the writer of the decision or
decisions of the two raffle committees on the transfer of the resolution under review.
ponencia from Justice Ynares-Santiago to Justice Velasco and
finally to Justice Brion as a regular Second Division case.
Significantly, Section 7, Rule 2 expressly uses the word ponente
(not Member-in-Charge) and refers to a specific situation where the
ponente (or the writer of the Decision or the Resolution) is no
Ruling: longer with the Court or is otherwise unavailable to review the
decision or resolution he or she wrote. Section 3, Rule 8, on the
RULE 2 THE OPERATING other hand, expressly uses the term Member-in-Charge and
RULE 8
STRUCTURES OF THE generally refers to his or her inhibition, without reference to the
INHIBITION AND
COURT SUBSTITUTION OF stage of the proceeding when the inhibition is made. TEAaDC
MEMBERS
OF THE COURT Under Section 7, Rule 2, the case should have been re-raffled and
assigned to anyone of Justices Nachura (who did not retire until
June 13, 2011), Peralta, or Bersamin, either (1) after the acceptance
of the 2nd MR (because the original rulings were no longer final); or
SEC. 7.Resolutions of motions SEC. 3.Effects of inhibition. — (2) after Justice Velasco's inhibition because the same condition
for reconsideration or The consequences of an existed, i.e., the need for a review by the same Justices who
clarification of decisions or inhibition of a Member of the rendered the decision or resolution. As previously mentioned,
signed resolutions and all Court shall be governed by Justice Nachura participated in both the original Decision and the
other motions and incidents these rules: subsequent Resolution, and all three Justices were the remaining
subsequently filed; (a)Whenever a Member-in- Members who voted on the October 2, 2009 Resolution. On the
creation of a Special Division. Charge of a case in a Division other hand, if Section 3, Rule 8 were to be solely applied after
— Motions for inhibits himself for a just and Justice Velasco's inhibition, the Clerk of Court would be correct in
reconsideration or valid reason, the case shall be her assessment and the raffle to Justice Brion, as a Member outside
clarification of a decision or returned to the Raffle of Justice Velasco's Division, was correct.
of a signed resolution and all Committee for re-raffling
other motions and incidents among the Members of the Section 3, Rule 8 of the IRSC should be read as the general rule
subsequently filed in the case other two (2) Divisions of the applicable to the inhibition of a Member-in-Charge. This general
shall be acted upon by the Court.
rule should, however, yield where the inhibition occurs at the late
ponente and the other
Members of the Division who stage of the case when a decision or signed resolution is assailed
through an MR. At that point, when the situation calls for the review rationale of the rule on replacements when an inhibition or
of the merits of the decision or the signed resolution made by a retirement intervenes. Since the inhibiting Justice was only the
ponente (or writer of the assailed ruling), Section 3, Rule 8 no Member-in-Charge and was technically merely a nominal ponente
in so far as the case is concerned (because he was not the writer of
longer applies and must yield to Section 7, Rule 2 of the IRSC
the Decision and Resolution under consideration), the raffle should
which contemplates a situation when the ponente is no longer have been confined among the Members who actually participated
available, and calls for the referral of the case for raffle among the in ruling on the merits of the original Decision or of the subsequent
remaining Members of the Division who acted on the decision or on Resolution. At that point, only Justices Peralta and Bersamin were
the signed resolution. This latter provision should rightly apply as it left because all the other Members of the original ruling groups had
gives those who intimately know the facts and merits of the case, retired. Since under the IRSC and Section 4 (3), Article VIII of the
through their previous participation and deliberations, the chance to Constitution, the case should have been decided by the Members
who actually took part in the deliberations, the ruling on the merits
take a look at the decision or resolution produced with their
made by the ruling Division on September 7, 2011 was effectively
participation. void and should appropriately be recalled.

A major influencing factor, of course, was the time constraint —


the Members of the ruling Division met with the Chief Justice on
The propriety of and grounds for the recall of the September
September 30, 2011, the Friday before October 4, 2011 (the date
7, 2011 Resolution
of the closest Court en banc meeting, as well as the deadline for the
finality of the September 7, 2011 Resolution). They impressed
The parties received the ruling on September 19, 2011, and this upon the Chief Justice the urgent need to recall their September 7,
ruling would lapse to finality after the 15th day, or after 2011 Resolution under the risk of being accused of a flip-flop if the
October 4, 2011. Court en banc would later decide to override its ruling.

Thus, on September 30, 2011 (a Friday), the Members went to Chief CONCLUSION
Justice Corona and recommended, as a prudent move, that the
September 7, 2011 Resolution be recalled at the very latest on
In sum, the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution of the ruling
October 4, 2011, and that the case be referred to the Court en banc
Division was a proper and legal move to make under the applicable
for a ruling on the questions Atty. Mendoza asked. The
laws and rules, and the indisputably unusual developments and
consequence, of course, of a failure to recall their ruling was for
circumstances of the case.
that Resolution to lapse to finality. After finality, any recall for
lack of jurisdiction of the ruling Division might not be
understood by the parties and could lead to a charge of flip- Between Section 3, Article 8 and Section 7, Rule 2, both of the
flopping against the Court. The IRSC, the former is the general provision on a Member-in-Charge's
inhibition, but it should yield to the more specific Section 7, Rule 2
in a situation where the review of an issued decision or signed
Ruling positively, the Court en banc duly issued its disputed
resolution is called for and the ponente or writer of these rulings is
October 4, 2011 Resolution recalling the September 7, 2011
no longer available to act. Section 7, Rule 2 exactly contemplates
Resolution and ordering the re-raffle of the case to a new Member-
this situation.
in-Charge.

The October 4, 2011 Resolution was issued to determine the


WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby confirm that the
propriety of the September 7, 2011 Resolution given the facts
Court en banc has assumed jurisdiction over the resolution of the
that came to light after the ruling Division's examination of the
merits of the motions for reconsideration of Philippine Airlines,
records. To point out the obvious, the recall was not a ruling on
Inc., addressing our July 22, 2008 Decision and October 2, 2009
the merits and did not constitute the reversal of the substantive
Resolution; and that the September 7, 2011 ruling of the Second
issues already decided upon by the Court in the FASAP case in
Division has been effectively recalled. This case should now be
its previously issued Decision (of July 22, 2008) and Resolution
raffled either to Justice Lucas P. Bersamin or Justice Diosdado M.
(of October 2, 2009). In short, the October 4, 2011 Resolution was
Peralta (the remaining Members of the Special Third Division that
not meant and was never intended to favor either party, but to
originally ruled on the merits of the case) as Member-in-Charge in
simply remove any doubt about the validity of the ruling Division's
resolving the merits of these motions.
action on the case. The case, in the ruling Division's view, could be
brought to the Court en banc since it is one of "sufficient
importance"; at the very least, it involves the interpretation of The Philippine Airlines, Inc.'s Motion to Vacate dated October 3,
conflicting provisions of the IRSC with potential jurisdictional 2011, but received by this Court after a recall had been made, has
implications. thereby been rendered moot and academic.

The Third (or Velasco) Division, with Justice Velasco as Member- The Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines'
in-Charge, cannot and should not be faulted for accepting the 2nd Motion for Reconsideration of October 17, 2011 is hereby denied;
MR; the variance introduced by the ruling on the 1st MR and the the recall of the September 7, 2011 Resolution was made by the
higher interest of justice (in light alone of the gigantic amount Court on its own before the ruling's finality pursuant to the Court's
involved) appeared to justify further consideration of the case. power of control over its orders and resolutions. Thus, no due
Recall that at that time, the IRSC was not yet in existence and a process issue ever arose.
specific rule under the IRSC on the handling of 2nd MRs was yet to
be formulated, separately from the existing jurisprudential rulings.
Justice Velasco, though, could not have held on to the case after its
merits were opened for new consideration, as he was not the writer
of the assailed Decision and Resolution, nor was he a Member of the
Division that acted on the case. Under A.M. No. 99-8-09-SC, the
rightful ponente should be a remaining Member of the Division that
rendered the decision or resolution.

With Justice Velasco's subsequent inhibition, a legal reason that the


involved officials and Justices should have again recognized is the